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IRS TAX TIP 2013-13: Determining Your Correct Filing Status
It’s important to use the correct filing status when filing your income tax return. It can impact the tax benefits you receive, the amount of your standard deduction and the amount of taxes you pay. It may even impact whether you must file a federal income tax return.
Are you single, married or the head of your household? There are five filing statuses on a federal tax return. The most common are “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly” and “Head of Household.” The Head of Household status may be the one most often claimed in error.
The IRS offers these seven facts to help you choose the best filing status for you.
1. Marital Status. Your marital status on the last day of the year is your marital status for the entire year.
2. If You Have a Choice. If more than one filing status fits you, choose the one that allows you to pay the lowest taxes.
3. Single Filing Status. Single filing status generally applies if you are not married, divorced or legally separated according to state law.
4. Married Filing Jointly. A married couple may file a return together using the Married Filing Jointly status. If your spouse died during 2012, you usually may still file a joint return for that year.
5. Married Filing Separately. If a married couple decides to file their returns separately, each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.
6. Head of Household. The Head of Household status generally applies if you are not married and have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and a qualifying person.
7. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply if your spouse died during 2010 or 2011, you have a dependent child and you meet certain other conditions.
IRS e-file is the easiest way to file and will help you determine the correct filing status. If you file a paper return, the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov is a tool that will help you choose your filing status.
Sandra Bullock Some Tax Advice and the DUH Factor
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Everywhere I turn someone is talking about Sandra Bullock and how Jesse James done her wrong. Boy, I do understand her pain and there is no doubt that the situation sucks. But really, should we all be this shocked?
I think a More Tax Tips reader put the situation into the proper perspective when he said there really is no surprise about how [the marriage] turned out. If you marry a bad boy, you shouldn’t be surprised when he acts badly.
Moreover, Sandra is old enough to know that she should not have latched onto a fixer upper. After all, he was married to a porn star; this might have been a clue that his take on the whole monogamy thing was a little different from say America’s Sweetheart. DUH
Anyway, I’m just sayin’.
So on to the tax part of this post.
If you are headed for divorce court here are a few things to keep in mind for tax time.
- Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your marital status for the entire year.
- Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced, or legally separated according to state law.
- A married couple may file a joint return together. The couple’s filing status would be Married Filing Jointly.
- A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately. This would be the proper election if you did not want to be tied to your spouse’s tax return particularly if you thought that he or she was evading taxes.
- You may qualify for head of household status even if you are still legally married at the end of the tax year.
- You are unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the last day of the year.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- A “qualifying person” lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the “qualifying person” is your dependent parent, he or she does not have to live with you. See Special rule for parent , under Qualifying Person.
Check out IRS Publication 501 for more information